Tute Nere Zine: Interview

by Jeff  Bagato

The following abridged interview with Annie of Tute Nere zine was conducted on Valentines Day, 2002. The collective has since disbanded.

What does the name Tute Nere mean?
It means �Black Overalls?in Italian. I was overseas this summer and in Italy for a brief bit during the protest against the G8 in Genoa. The newspaper had this layout where the far right activists who were protesting--like Bono from U2 and some other people, and then it was this arrow and at the far left there was this cartoon picture of an anarchist with a brick in his hand and all in black and it said, �Anarchists, the Black Bloc or Black Overalls.?Because they had �Tute Bianci,?which was �White Overalls,? so they just equated the Black Bloc with the similar style of White Overalls, which isn�t true, because there�s a divergence of opinion.

What�s the "White Overalls"?
That�s Ya Basta, they have the padded suits in protests. There�s a lot of political discrepancy between the two groups, especially in Genoa, because there was discrepancy between the anarchists and the Genoa social forums; they kind of pushed the anarchists down and said they were the �bad protesters.?And a lot of anarchists felt that Tute Bianci really played to the media and lost sight of what�s important in the movement.

Were you there when that guy got shot?
No, the days were very crazy and the cops, the carabinieri were traveling in small pockets, so everybody, even people who were not engaging in property destruction or more militant tactics--you�d be like walking down the street and you�d walk into a pocket of rolex replica watches cops. And then you�d cut a corner and then there�s be another pocket of cops and people standing off with the cops. Everybody got divided in these small little clumps. So we didn�t hear about it until we got back to the media center that night. But where we were they apparently discharged live ammo into the air--not at anyone. It was a pretty emotional time, especially the raid on the media center and the school the next night. For a lot of us, it reminded us why we were against capitalism in the first place.

When did Tute Nere start?
It started in August, 2001; I got back from Europe in August, and I really thought this was an important idea. I had a friend in Barricada collective in Boston. I always give him a hard time because there�s no women in this collective, and he finally turned to me, because I was traveling with him a bit this summer, and he said �Why don�t you start your own collective that does what we do??And was like �yeah, why don�t I start a collective that does this sort of thing.?So that�s how it came about. Originally there was a male member, but as fake rolex time progressed we decided it would be best for it to be all women so we could serve as a way for other women to get more involved in anarchism and radical politics, radical thought, and radical action. We feel it�s easier for other women to identify with an all women group.

What�s the background of the members? Are you coming from the punk scene, radical activism, or what?
The majority of us did come out of the punk rock subculture, which I think is more common in the United States, because you find your way into punk and then you find your way into anarchism and radical thought. But one of our members is still full-on punk rock all the way. Some of us have drifted from that as we�ve gotten a bit older. One good thing about punk rock is that it does help people find their way into anarchism, but I think the problem is in the United States punk rock and anarchism are so linked a lot of times when people grow out of punk they grow out of their politics. And it can also be kind of isolating, because if you�re a middle-aged family man, or a middle-aged woman, from a different class or ethnic group, the punk rock scene can be very isolating because it tends to be white, teenage boys, and omega replica usually middle class. That�s one thing we want to work on in the collective, because we feel like it�s a certain sector of society that always seems to be involved in these things.

Why did you guys decide to do a zine when there are so many other anarchist journals, particularly the Northeastern Anarchist, which Tute Nere has ties to?
One of the reasons is that we are a supporter collective within NEFAC [Northeastern Federation of Anarcho-Communists], which is what the Northeastern Anarchist comes out of. It�s the English paper, and then Ruptures is the French paper of NEFAC. NEFAC is very much male, and it�s like most anarchist groups in most of my experience, and I�ve been active for 4 or 5 years, it�s kind of the same people that put out everything, that do everything, et cetera. It�s not like they�re a dominating force, but other people are either too busy or have other priorities, so the work falls back on them. We thought it was important to have a monthly anarchist magazine that came out of a militant female perspective. Because you don�t see that much. Even though there�s Northeastern Anarchist, and another one we�re compared to, and we�re even called their sister, is the Barricada Collective (Boston), which is another NEFAC publication. They�re an excellent magazine, but it�s a male perspective. Being a woman who reads it, I enjoy it very much, but there are still female issues that aren�t dealt with. I�m not a feminist--but I think I�m not the only one in the collective that�s not a feminist--and I don�t label myself a feminist; I believe our ultimate goal is getting rid of the capitalist structure, etc. But there are certain issues that in order to do that, we need more women involved in this, just like we need more minorities, we need different ethnicities, we need all these different aspects involved. I think one of the crucial ways of doing that is giving something, like a magazine, that people can get their hands on and that are like �Oh, these are women putting this out, these are women doing these things, these are women organizing, going to these events, writing these pieces--hmm, I bet I could do this too; I�m interested in this.?nbsp; That was a primary reason we did this. Another reason was that in DC, there are no NEFAC collectives. All anarchist federations have flaws, but all of us have a belief that anarchist federations and unions are crucial to organizing a structure that will lead to our ultimate goal, etc. There�s collectives in Boston, Philly, Connecticut, all over Canada, Baltimore--but DC was lacking. We thought this was pretty crucial too--to have something in DC that was a base for this as well, to network that structure. Not networking in the typical business sense, but having people in each place so they can educate and move and work with local communities to create solid bases throughout the United States, not just in one or two locations. 

My other question in why you would do a zine has to do with the success of the Internet as a tool for networking the anti capitalist convergence. What are your thoughts on the value of a print zine given the power of the Internet as a tool?
I think the Internet is a good tool, of course. I�m kind of old fashioned. I like having a book or a magazine or something in front of me that I can hold in my hands, and turn the pages and go back to if I want to, and scribble notes on. And it�s something to remember, to keep with you. I have the tendency to save most of the magazines I pick up or buy or subscribe to. I think I have We Dare Be Free�s or Sabate papers from ages ago, years ago. It helps you track what people were thinking and when. I know the Internet can do that, but it�s not as hands on. There�s just something to be said for old-fashioned print medium. I think it�s something that�s very important, because you still have massive newspapers like the Washington Post and the Washington Times putting out a print medium just like all these other places. So we have to provide as many options and ways for people to get information about anarchism, about what we�re doing, and what we do, as mainstream society. That�s our only way to combat corporate media lies and government repression--getting things out to people in more than one way.

This kind of gets to distribution, because one problem with e-mail lists is that they preach to the converted--you�re only on the mailing list if you�re somewhat in line with those ideas--so the value of a print publication has to do with people outside the movement finding the magazine. Are you distributing it outside movement channels?
As of now, we distribute to infoshops, of course, and people have subscribed, but most of those subscriptions have come through A-Infos posts on the Internet, or through other magazines--like Northeastern Anarchist ran a little blurb on us and we got some subscriptions that way. That�s something we�re still working with. That is definitely something that�s crucial, getting beyond our circles.

Are you familiar with the Redstockings radical women�s group from the 70s, and the book they put out called Feminist Revolution?
Yeah. When it comes to anarchism, I myself am much more traditional, like I�m very European influenced in my style of anarchism, but  another collective member, Jody, she�s been very influenced by feminist anarchism, and anarcha-feminism, and I think that comes through a lot in our work. I think it�s a natural influence, because when all of us were getting into politics, the first thing you look towards is that anarcha-feminist twist, even though I kind of jutted off into this European style, and we all found our respective niches within anarchism, you still look for a woman�s perspective and a woman�s way of identifying. Especially when you�re militant women, you reach for the books by other militant women or women who really have their shit together. 

Who else might that be?
I read a book on the Mujeres Libres, which were women who organized during the Spanish Civil War--and that was a big influence on me, because they weren�t feminists, and I really identified with that. And even though they fell into the role of cooking, cleaning and organizing, in more domestic ways, as well, it was still really inspirational; it made a basic connection with me. A lot of other individual women that we have known and worked with have influenced me and other women in the group. A lot of our own personal experiences really influenced it; I don�t know if it�s from books or people, but it�s definitely a school of thinking that you pick up as you come through.

Issue 3 talks about the �anarchist boys club?in the US, and I was wondering if it was any different than in other underground scenes, like the punk scene?
To be perfectly honest, no. I think every subculture runs into the same problems of the main culture; we all have the same issues like racism, sexism, homophobia, and all this sort of stuff we have to battle with. Some of us do a better job, which I like to feel the anarchist community does do a better job with. I remember when I was getting into punk rock, one of the first guys I dated I went to a show, and he was like �I stand in the back?and I look around and its like all the girls standing in the back, holding the jackets and watching the boys. I think you see that in every subculture as well as in the main culture. I think anarchists really do try to deal with these things and confront them, which is good, but there are still problems.

This Restockings book had articles about confronting psychological terrorism--which is the term they used for the ways women are put down through psychological or emotional attacks--and from that one article in issue 3, it seems like that�s still a problem.
Definitely, one of the biggest problems is it�s not so much like a guy slapping your ass or something. You still feel those same societal pressures as when you go into a coed classroom as when you go into a coed collective meeting. A perfect example, in York, PA, there was a World Church of the Creator meeting, with Anti-Racist Action and Anti-Fascist Response, and all of us organized to go counter demonstrate, and it went really well. But we set out earlier in the morning to make sure everything was looking good and stuff. And one of the guys kept referring to us as �the little advance team.?We were all women! I don�t think he meant it like �the little women,?but that was something that just reminds you there�s a ways to go with this. For me as a woman, when you�re involved on a more personal level, because most of the time when you find someone you connect with, you usually share a lot of your same beliefs, and when you�re involved on a personal level, this is something all of us had in common, the line gets much more vague between political and personal. It can get really complicated, and a lot of it seems to fall back on the woman. If a relationship doesn�t work out, then you�re politically unstable, you�re untrustworthy, you�re a security risk.

Has that happened to you?
Yeah, that has happened to me. If they do something sexist within the confines of a personal relationship, then you weren�t supposed to call them on it. It�s not supposed to be a big deal. That�s another frustrating thing, because you�re like, here I am talking to you about equality and working with you when you engaged in really offensive behavior toward me. It goes both ways. Women do that, too, to men, I can guarantee it. But it�s seems to be more men to women than women to men, just because the way society drills it into your head.

Do you think there�s less of that in Europe?
I don�t think it�s less. From my experience and from our European comrades, the same things still happen, it�s just that anarchism in Europe is further ahead of us, in a way, and it�s a bigger movement; you do see more women involved and much more women on the front lines. That surprised me in Genoa when we were having meetings; I�d look around, and there�d be as many women like in the delegates meeting as there would be men. But in the United States when I go to more closed exclusive meetings, it�s usually like, if  I�m lucky, two other females. That may just be number proportions, but from my time in Europe, when I engaged in political activity, I felt much more well responded to over there. Men would come up and they wouldn�t automatically go up to the guy standing next to me and say �What�s going on.?They�d engage me in conversation. And if I appeared to know something, they�d say, �Then we�ll talk to you about this, not try to talk to a guy about this.?That�s something I saw there that I don�t see here as much. Then again, it�s because there are greater numbers, and the movement there has been going on a lot longer. The militant tradition in Europe is a lot more set than it is here, where anarchism puddled out for a while and it�s coming back.

You started the group and the zine in August, and that was just before 9/11; have those events affected the group?
We�re doing fine, because our beliefs are pretty set. Our concept on 9/11 is that it�s pretty clear and defined. It�s pretty sad when people die in those acts, I�m not belittling that, but when that sort of death and terrorism is perpetuated every day in a lot of places, you have to gain some perspective of it. Most of us felt that way, because most of us have been doing this and have held anti-capitalist beliefs for a long time. It didn�t really affect that, and if anything it made a lot of us feel it�s even more important now to show the connections between capitalism and US culture that ties into these events and why these events happen. Not just, �let�s blame it on these people and go bomb them?-there�s all these complicated issues, and that�s not the answer. Until you deal with the answer, these things aren�t going to change. If anything, it�s made us very frustrated, and a lot of people I know--not just in our collective in particular, but in many collectives and many people in the ACC here in DC--saw it either shift to an anti-war movement. Most of us are not �anti-war;?we�re into government war and nationalist war, and this whole concept of class war. A lot of us aren�t pacifists. But a lot of it moved to the anti-war movement, or into saying �we should lay low for now.?For us, we feel it�s more crucial than ever to be in the streets saying �this is why we�re against capitalism. This just shows the inherent problems in all these things.?

There�s an overt stand in favor of radical violence in the mission statement and editorial content of the zine, and you seemed concerned about sending me a phone number through e-mail, and I was just wondering if there�d been any reprisals against the collective or any of the members?
Not as yet, but given the new Patriot Act, and all these other things, security culture�s very important to people in this movement, I think, and it�s understandable when you�re a minority faction that�s against the controlling power. As of now, there�s always a few weird things that happen: you hear clicking on your phone line, the fact that most likely every one of your e-mails from the collective account is being monitored, or you�re trying to cross a border somewhere and you discover your name�s on a list. That�s another thing.

Did that happen to you?
Yeah. This was pre-collective. I got turned back because apparently I still had a criminal court case going on, even though the case was dismissed two weeks prior to me even trying to cross the border. So that was ridiculous. A lot of people deem it self-defense because you�re going up against forces that shoot you, that gas you, when you�re trying to establish your right to be somewhere. And when you don�t recognize them as a legitimate power. For us it�s not a moral issue, it�s a tactical issue. The perfect example is I remember watching the news about Seattle and them interviewing anarchists, and it being on the news for weeks; that same response, I almost guarantee you, wouldn�t have happened if there hadn�t been that militant anarchist contingent that engaged in certain tactics. That�s the way the group feels about this sort of thing. There�s always time, place, organization...it�s this idea of revolutionary privilege, too; a lot of our comrades don�t have the privilege to go out in the street and hold a sign. It�s either, you fight or you�re dead. It�s something we�ll most likely address in an article. Also, that aspect of militancy in women; we also want other women to feel like, yeah, if we want to go into a black bloc, we can go into a black bloc; if we want to organize collective cells, we can organize collective cells. We can be a part of anarchist history, anarchist theory, anarchist organizing, whether it is more confrontational tactics or more pacifistic tactics, because both are present. END

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